Principles of Zero-to-One product management
Zero-to-One product management (ie building a first product from scratch) has less to do with theory and more with instinct. This is why many founders who’ve never “done” product tend to be successful at getting off the ground.
But there could come a moment where you, a PM, need to get something off the ground or take over from a founder. Here’s the product approach I believe works best:
- Don’t (fully) rely on prioritization frameworks. At this stage, w/ little legacy, effort tends to be low, and value unclear. Does it feel right to build? If yes, do it in the smallest, cheapest version.
- Insight/data will never look great/enough, but move on. If you’re used to statistical significance, that’s not happening soon. Think “signal”, not data. You will need to do more bets than it feels right.
- Feature shipping should look abundant and fast. As productivity is high, aim to build many small bets, building up value proposition. Only a small % will stick.
- Forget optimization, it’s about absolute numbers. Optimize when you need to make many trade offs. Here is about pure progress. 5 over 4, not 25% up.
- Be pragmatic. In code, documentation, analysis. Spend just enough, use your time to talk with customers & your team instead. You will feel the PM Imposter Syndrome, “everything feels all over the place”. Ignore it. It’s about shipping and testing.
- Care less about “roadmapping”, focus in building. And if you need a roadmap, think weeks not months. If investors need a roadmap, focus on “epic bets”, not detailed features.
- Every single day think “Is this really what I should be building?” And get your whole team thinking this way, otherwise you’ll burn out and lose them. Time matters, resources are scarce, course correct as fast as possible.
It’s all about pushing through. Oh and celebrate each small victory like hell. It feels 100x better at 0-to-1.